Notre Dame girls’ basketball helps grant wish
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – The Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball program is making a local 3-year-old boy very happy this year.
Through their annual Free-Throw-A-Thon fundraiser, the Tritons players raised $10,000 and donated half the proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
In turn, Make-A-Wish was able to grant Layu Danforth of Green Bay his wish of going to Walt Disney World in Florida this March.
“It’s really cool,” said Notre Dame girls’ basketball coach Sara Rohde. “I’m proud of how hard the girls worked to raise the money and provide this opportunity for a little boy who has a chronic respiratory disease.”
Each year, NDA girls’ basketball holds its fundraiser, where every girl in the program goes into the community to seek pledges.
The players then shoot free throws: third-graders put up 30 shots, fourth-graders 40 and the high school players shoot 100.
Since 2017, the proceeds have gone directly to Make-A-Wish.
“At the beginning of the season, we focused on free throws and making as many as we could to raise money,” said junior Sammy Opichka, who raised $700. “After hearing the story of the kid, it’s amazing knowing we are able to bring him to Disney.”
This was the third year Opichka took part in the free-throw fundraiser.
“I think we sent them both to Disney,” she said.
The NDA players and coaches don’t get to meet Danforth, who suffers from chronic respiratory failure, but they get to see pictures of him and hear his story.
Much of his young life has been spent inside the hospital, and he relies on a breathing tube to support his respiratory function.
Because Danforth’s critical illness qualified him for a wish, his medical team put in a referral with Make-A-Wish Wisconsin.
Danforth loves music and watching lights and motion, so his one wish is to go to Walt Disney World.
“We are deeply grateful for the incredible support and generosity of the Notre Dame girls’ basketball players, coaches and families to help make life-changing wishes come true for local children battling critical illnesses,” said Kris Teofilo, the Northeast Wisconsin Regional Director of Make-A-Wish Wisconsin.
Since the founding of Make-A-Wish Wisconsin in 1984, over 7,000 families have experienced the transformative power of a wish across the state, according to Make-A-Wish representatives.
Make-A-Wish Wisconsin’s 7,000th wish was granted Dec. 4, 2019, to 6-year-old Ben, who wished to have a Christmas light show at his home.
Each year, Make-A-Wish grants nearly 400 wishes to Wisconsin children; however, it’s predicted more than 500 Wisconsin children will be diagnosed with a critical illness in 2020.
“Hundreds of wish kids and their families currently need the transformative power of a wish, which replaces fear with hope, anxiety with strength and sadness with joy,” Teofilo said. “For many of our kids, their wish marks a turning point in the fight against their illness. We couldn’t do this important work without our compassionate supporters like the Notre Dame girls’ basketball program.”